Have you ever asked God why he is silent? In our fast-paced society we are accustomed to immediate response and instant gratification, even in our daily communication.
Friends usually respond to our texts or social media posts within a few minutes—an hour, max. Almost every relationship we have can be accessed instantly through the plastic device in our hands.
But what about our relationship with God? We can’t dial up God’s number and expect an immediate answer. He doesn’t reply to our text messages either, and he certainly doesn’t give us a like on our photo updates on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Sometimes—actually, most of the time—God can feel very far away. When we look at the evil in our world it’s easy to ask the question: Where are you, God? Esther herself likely asked the same question during the events of the Purim story.
Esther’s life was turned upside down when she was forced to become a candidate for the king’s harem. Being orphaned at a young age, her uncle Mordecai was the only family she had ever known, and now the king’s mandatory “beauty contest” took her away from everything she knew. Not knowing why this was happening or that God would eventually use her to save her people, I’ll bet she felt betrayed and even forgotten, and I’ll bet you that she looked up to heaven and asked, “God where are you?”
Sure enough, fate would have it that the young Esther found favor in the king’s eyes and was summoned to the palace. A series of events eventually brought her uncle back into her life, but this time he brought her the horrible news that the evil Haman was planning to annihilate her people.
This reality weighed on Esther, and she was faced with a choice. Revealing her identity to the king could mean her own death, but if she didn’t, how could she save her people? And where was God in all of this? Why didn’t he save his people?
Not once in the book of Esther is God’s name mentioned. There is no intervention from above, no miracles like those in Egypt, no divine direction, and absolutely no direct interaction with his people.
God is silent.
Nevertheless, his presence is still felt. The story of Esther illustrates how God uses his servants to accomplish his will in the world. Searching for God and questioning his silence is something that the Jewish people are very familiar with. Where was God during the Holocaust when six million of our people died? Where is God when genocide takes place all over the world? Where is God when children die in Syria or when refugees drown in the ocean as they attempt to escape war? There’s nothing wrong with wrestling with these questions.
Today we can still see glimpses of God’s compassion and intervention through the use of his faithful servants. Irena Sendler is an excellent example. In the overwhelming, seemingly unending slaughter of the Holocaust, Irena was a small beacon of much-needed light. She was a Polish nurse who smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, rescuing them from certain death. She followed what she felt God had called her to do and showed us that even in our darkest time, miracles still happen. There are many inspirational stories of other rescuers. People such as these remind us that, while God may seem completely distant and silent, he is still present through those who seek him and serve him.
I’m sure that Esther wondered where God was. But she was also attentive to his presence and acted upon what she believed was right to save her people. This is a lesson for us to take to heart. God can act through his people, and we must be those conduits. When God is silent, let's be his light by allowing him to act through us.